I like to think that I'm a pretty decent bloke to deal with, so I'm appalled to realise that I've been far from it in at least one area over the last couple of years. I'd like to explain here just what a dickhead I've been.
You may already know parts of the story of my interaction with Liz Castro the author of Perl and CGI for the World Wide Web. You probably only know the parts of it which make me look a lot better than I probably should. Here's the full story.
I first came to Liz's attention when I wrote a very scathing review of the first edition of her book on Amazon. We exchanged a couple of emails and she realised that I did have a couple of good ideas to improve her book. She asked me to act as a technical reviewer on the second edition and I agreed. At this point I asked Amazon to remove my review and promised to replace it when the second edition was published.
We then went into a period where she would email me PDFs of the new text and I'd reply with technical corrections. Finally the book was finished and Liz was kind enough to give me a nice credit in it. When she send me a copy of it I emailed her praising it profusely. I think I wrote positive things about it here and in other places but they weren't as enthusiastic as I was in private email to Liz.
Another thing that had been going on at the same time was that I (with occasional help from other london.pmers) had been helping out on the message board that supports the readers of Liz's book. Whilst I'm sure that some good advice was dispensed, I have to wonder about my motives. It sometimes seemed that we were more interested in entertaining ourselves than helping others. It was then that the whole "use strict is gay" thing first appeared.
So, this went on for about a year and one day I realised that I hadn't written the Amazon review that I'd promised. So I did so. My new review was an improvement on my first one, but it fell far short of the enthusiasm that I'd shown in private emails to Liz. She wrote me an understandably angry email asking me to stay away from her message board.
This is when I started acting like a complete idiot. I started thinking that only I could help the newbies on her board and started posting under pseudonym. At one point Liz deleted one of my posts. I accused her publically (here, in fact) of censorship and it all turned very nasty. When she posted a reply to my journal demonstrating what a dick I'd been, I just deleted the whole journal entry.
And I still didn't have the sense to just walk away. I continued to post to her board under a pseudonym. I only stopped ten days ago when Liz emailed me pointing out in no uncertain terms how badly I had behaved.
So anyway there it is. I've been a complete prat. I'm not going to try to explain any of my actions. I want to publically apologise to Liz Castro for the damage I've done to her reputation. Oh, and I've edited my Amazon review. Don't know how long that will take to appear.
A couple of the points that Liz has raised in her recent emails to me tie in pretty well with the whole Shlomi Fish debate that's been going on around here recently and I can't help thinking that Liz is exactly the kind of person who we should be trying to get involved in the documentation project that Schwern has suggested.
But I'll probably leave it until later in the weekend to write more about that.